The power 5

Tuesday 07 May 2013

Five international emerging architects selected for WAN 21 FOR 21 Award 2013, leaving the competition open for 2014

The third stage of the WAN 21 for 21 competition has awarded a further 5 worthy winners who have proven their potential for innovation in the future of architecture. The practices were selected by a specialist panel in a lively jury session in London earlier this month. The panel were looking for firms who showed the potential for change and an understanding of context, and were able to communicate their ideas and work clearly. They were searching for emerging architects, as well as more established practices who were yet to gain the attention they deserved for their designs.

The last two years of the competition have seen 13 practices crowned 21 for 21 winners, allowing the judges to select up to 8 further winners in this round to complete the competition. However, the competition was fiercely fought by practices from all over the world and only 5 made the cut in this exclusive programme, meaning the award will extend into 2014. Each of the winning practices showed a positive contribution to architecture with demonstrable innovation and potential.

The judges thought the ability to create place-making rather than object-making was very strong throughout the entries. They were also impressed with the clever use of materials, doing more with less. Tristram Carfrae, Arup Group Board Director, explained, ‘some people produced wonderful places with very little, making a real contribution to sustainability, stripping the designs back rather than adding to them’. The jury concluded that the award is most valuable to the firms that had undertaken extensive research and who were challenged to get the work into practice; they hope the WAN 21 for 21 accolade will provide an opportunity for the winners to contribute to the future of architecture.

LONGHI architects based in Peru ‘enchanted’ the judging panel which included remote judges Ma Yansong from MAD architects and previous WAN 21 for 21 award winner Vo Trong Nghia. Andrew Best from Buro Happold praised the project displayed as ‘amazing…with promise [for future works]’, whilst Dennis Ho from Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners said the project submitted made him ‘want to go into the spaces’ to see more.

Canadian firm 5468796 were praised for their consistency across the projects submitted, as well as their use of digital fabrication. Andrew Best said, ‘multiple-use housing is typically unglamorous, but [the firm] have done something special here’.  Martha Thorne, Executive Director of the Pritzker Prize, said, ‘I like these projects; they do different things but remain mindful of the context…they use the idea of surface in a proper way’. Dennis Ho confirmed that 5468796 displayed a ‘well-considered use of elements to create rhythm and scale; not over-doing it’.

FGMF impressed the judges with what Malcolm Reading, Chairman of Malcolm Reading Consultants* described as ‘a mature piece of work’ with a good use of groundplane and the integration of levels. Dennis Ho said, ‘they have illustrated how the buildings relate to the environment’ while Martha Thorne agreed, ‘this firm takes different approaches but they all work together’.

AGENCE SEARCH intrigued the judges with its bold concepts as Martha Thorne said, ‘there is something interesting about this firm. They are comfortable working with varied multimedia, skin, interiors and settings’ and Tristram Carfrae agreed, ‘each of their projects are different, but each have a rigour within themselves’ which earned the French firm a well-deserved place at the top.

Finally, RURAL URBAN FRAMEWORK (RUF) was credited unanimously as ‘very interesting’ for its effect in China to enhance the community with little cost and sensitive design. Dennis Ho said the projects were representative of what the award is aiming to uncover, stating ‘the projects deserve more exposure, especially in China with a sense of community and usability of the materials’. The judges were won over by the social aspect of the firm’s work and their ability to bring creativity and flair to low-budget and small-scale projects. 

With this year’s judges choosing to select only five worthy winners, the search for the 21 for 21 continues…

World Architecture News will present a private showcase of the WAN 21 for 21 in London in partnership with Arup later this month. For details on the event please contact Megan Cox on

The WAN 21 for 21 award winners are:






See all the winners so far here.

Megan Cox
WAN AWARDS Co-ordinator

*Trustee of Historic Royal Palaces and Trustee of Edinburgh World Heritage

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